Recently released court documents in a lawsuit against drug giant Wyeth, thanks to a court action by the New York Times and PLoS Medicine, are now searchable at a University of California, San Francisco web site.
The Wyeth documents are the latest made searchable at the Drug Industry Document Archive, or DIDA, which archives the documents from several high-profile cases. Here's a blurb on what the site is all about, how it got started, and how it is funded:
The Drug Industry Document Archive (DIDA) was created by the Center for Knowledge Management at the University of California San Francisco Library in collaboration with faculty members C. Seth Landefeld, MD and Michael Steinman, MD to house material pertaining to United States of America ex rel. David Franklin vs. Parke-Davis, Division of Warner-Lambert (now owned by Pfizer, Inc). Filed by former Parke-Davis employee David Franklin, the lawsuit alleged that the company violated federal regulations by engaging in systematic efforts to promote the drug gabapentin (Neurontin) for uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Drs. Steinman and Landefeld were unpaid expert witnesses on behalf of the plaintiff and wrote an expert report for the court regarding marketing practices for gabapentin and its potential impact on physician prescribing.
Documents were obtained from public-access files of the United States District Court for Massachusetts and other sources including the plaintiff's law firm. These include materials written by Parke-Davis and companies with whom it worked which were entered as evidence, and legal documents outlining the progress of the litigation.
Documents from additional sources, including court cases and US government committee investigations, have been added to DIDA over the last few years. For a full listing of these sources, see The Documents.
The archive was founded with the support of a gift made by Thomas Greene to The Regents of the University of California in February 2005. Mr. Greene's law firm represented Mr. Franklin in the litigation from which many of the archived documents were obtained.
The Wyeth documents detail the use of ghostwritiers by Wyeth to promote its hormone replacement therapy drugs over the last decade. Last month, MecGill professor Barabara Sherwin was implicated in the case, when documents showed she used the services of a ghostwriting company on at least two occassions. Sherwin has denied any wrongdoing.
The documents were first made available last month on the PLoS web site, but were not searchable and difficult to sort through. The DIDA site now make it possible to search for documents by name, type or content.